Insiders

Which Games Would NFC Teams Like To Have Back?

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A “kick me” game is one that a team had a great chance of winning, but failed to do so.  These are games that could affect a team by keeping them out of the playoffs or lose them home-field advantage.

A great example comes from the 2011 season when the New Orleans Saints lost to a terrible St. Louis Rams team on the road (a team that finished 2-14), thus costing them home field advantage in the postseason.  New Orleans had to travel to San Francisco, instead of being at home at the Superdome, where they hadn’t lost a game all season.  The Saints lost that game on an Alex Smith game-winning drive and their season ended.  If New Orleans had taken care of business against that putrid Rams team, they wouldn’t played all of their postseason games in domes (including the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium) and it’s very likely that Drew Brees and Sean Payton would have another ring.

We looked at some of the “kick me” games from AFC teams in the first half of the season, now it’s time to look at the NFC.

New York Giants- 4-4- Week 1 at Dallas: The Giants grasped defeat from the jaws of victory as they stopped their own clock while trying to run it out with a ill-timed pass.  They allowed Tony Romo just enough time to beat them, 27-26, when the G-Men dominated the football game.  Week 2 vs. Atlanta: New York blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead to a Falcons team that lost 10 games a season ago.  Week 8 at New Orleans: Usually six touchdown passes from your quarterback and getting your own pick-six is enough to win.  Not against Drew Brees.  The Giants defense allowed 52 points in their 52-49 defeat.  If New York wins one of those games, they would have a 1.5 game lead in the NFC East.  Two of them and they are looking at fighting for a first-round bye instead of trying to hold their heads above .500 water.

Washington Redskins- 3-4- Week 1 vs. Miami: The Redskins have the honor of being Joe Philbin’s last win in Miami, in a game they had almost 100 more yards of offense and nearly double the time of possession.  Week 5 at Atlanta: Washington couldn’t hold a four-point lead with just over two minutes left, as they allowed Devonta Freeman to march down the field and score for the Falcons.  A Kirk Cousins pick-six sealed the loss in overtime, 25-19.  Give Washington one of those games and they are in first place in the NFC East.

Philadelphia Eagles- 3-4- Week 1 at Atlanta: The Eagles missed a 44-yard field goal which would have given them the lead late in the fourth quarter, and then Sam Bradford threw an interception with just over a minute remaining to seal the 26-24 defeat.  Week 4 at Washington:  Philadelphia held a lead for almost all of the fourth quarter before allowing a game-winning 90-yard drive to Kirk Cousins (of all people) in their 23-20 loss.  Give the Eagles one of those wins and we’re talking about a first-place team instead of firing the head coach.

Dallas Cowboys- 2-5- Even the close losses that the Cowboys have had couldn’t have gone either way without Tony Romo.  The good news is that they’re still just a game and a half out of first place.

Green Bay Packers- 6-1- The Packers have only lost one game and they were thoroughly outplayed.

Minnesota Vikings- 5-2- The Vikings haven’t lost any games that they weren’t outplayed.

Chicago Bears- 2-5- Week 6 at Detroit: Chicago couldn’t make good on three Lions turnovers as they handed the Lions their first win of the season, 37-34 in overtime.  Week 8 vs. Minnesota: The Bears lost a seven point lead with less than two minutes left and ultimately lost in overtime, 23-20.  If Chicago had both of those games, they’d be squarely in the hunt for a playoff spot.  Even one of those games puts them on the precipice.

Detroit Lions- 1-7- At 1-7, the Lions have the worst record in the NFL and they’re too far gone to talk about what-ifs.

Carolina Panthers- 7-0- The Panthers haven’t lost a game.

Atlanta Falcons- 6-2- Week 8 vs. Tampa Bay: The Falcons lost a game to a team with a rookie quarterback that was among the league’s worst in pass defense, in overtime, 23-20.  Atlanta turned the ball over four times and had more than 200 more yards of offense than the Bucs did.  Although the Falcons are in good shape at 6-2, one more win would put them in better position with two games to play against the first-place Panthers.

New Orleans Saints- 4-4- Week 2 vs. Tampa Bay: The Saints turned the ball over three times and lost to a rookie quarterback at home making just his second start.  If New Orleans captures that game, they’d be in great position for a Wildcard.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 3-4- Week 7 at Washington: The Bucs dropped a game in which they had a 24-0 lead.  They also out-gained the Redskins by over 100 yards.  If Tampa wins that game, they’re over .500 and in the mix for a Wildcard.

Arizona Cardinals- 6-2- Week 4 vs. St. Louis: If the Cards are going to finally win the NFC West, they can’t drop games to inferior opponents with inferior quarterbacks, and that’s exactly what they did at home.  The Cards had twice as many first downs, out-gained the Rams by over 100 yards and turned the ball over three times.  Week 6 at Pittsburgh: Arizona out-gained the Steelers by over 150 yards, had seven more first downs, but once again turned the ball over three times and lost to a backup quarterbacks backup (Landry Jones).  The Cards should be undefeated and these games could hurt them in not only the hunt for home field advantage, but even in the division race.

St. Louis Rams- 4-3- The Rams were thoroughly outplayed in each of their three losses, but playoff teams shouldn’t lose to Washington.

Seattle Seahawks- 4-4- Week 1 at St. Louis:  The Seahawks blew a seven point lead with under a minute left, only to lose in overtime, 34-31.  Week 5 at Cincinnati: The Seahawks blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.  Week 6 vs. Carolina:  The Seahawks blew a nine point lead with under five minutes left at home.  Do you see a trend?  If the Seahawks would have held on to just two of those leads they’d be in first place in the NFC West.  Now their margin of error is razor thin

San Francisco 49ers- 2-6- The 49ers have lost six out of their last seven games, five of those by two touchdowns or more.  They’ve been dominated and could be the worst team in the NFL.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.